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41-Fort Robinson, July 2022

Fort Robinson

7/23/22

Left Fort Laramie at 7am and arrived at Fort Robinson and were setup by noon, having stopped for breakfast in Lusk on our way here. We were not able to visit Jay Em town, featherlegs monument or the Stagecoach Museum as they were all closed today, which caused us to get here way before check in time. Fortunately, they worked with us and let us change sites, so we could get parked. Because check in isn't until 2pm, we were able to change spots up to the north end by the mare barn, which is a lot nicer with the views and out of the middle of all the folks.

However, when we got to our spot someone was in it, so they moved us over and all is good. This change made it, so we had to go back down to the office and get new placards for the site. Upon completion of our new placard getting, we drove around the post so that Linda could see it, which we will repeat when Dianne gets here.

Setup camping for campgrounds for the two boondocking spots we had on the way to Lincoln. With the heat, just no way to not have ac for Chloe. Should be a nice stay here, with Cindy and her sisters being together while checking out some neat stuff.

The fort from the web: Fort Robinson State Park:

Stunning Fort Robinson State Park comprises more than 22,000 acres of exquisite Pine Ridge scenery, compelling Old West history, exceptional lodging, scenic camping and the park’s own buffalo and longhorn herds. Fort Robinson is a particularly popular destination for family reunions and has been named one of the nation’s top family reunion spots by USA Today, among other publications.

As its name implies, Fort Robinson was operated as a fort from the early days of the Old West until after World War II. Many original buildings survive and remain in use at the park today, and others have been reconstructed. Fort Robinson was the site of the 1879 Cheyenne Outbreak and the death of famed Sioux Chief Crazy Horse. Over the years, the fort served the Red Cloud Indian Agency, as a cavalry remount station, K-9 dog training center, POW camp and beef research station. It was established as a state park in 1962.

A Fort Robinson Chronology

  • 1868 - Treaty guarantees Sioux and other tribes food and supplies for land ceded to the U.S. Red Cloud Indian Agency established on Platte River in Wyoming, just west of the Nebraska line, to distribute goods to tribes.
  • 1873 - Red Cloud Agency moves to new site on the White River in northwest Nebraska.
  • December 1878 - Camp Robinson, renamed Fort Robinson.
  • January 9, 1879 - Epic Cheyenne Outbreak begins, as tribe escapes train escort from Ft. Laramie.
  • January 22, 1879 - Last of the escaping Cheyenne are killed or captured on the Platte River in Wyoming, just west of the Nebraska line, from barracks at the fort.
  • February 9, 1874 - Acting agent Frank Appleton killed by warrior at Red Cloud Agency; Lt. Levi Robinson ambushed and killed while on wood train escort from Fort Laramie by Indians from Red Cloud Agency.
  • March 2-7, 1874 - Sioux Expedition leaves Ft. Laramie with 949 men to protect the Red Cloud Agency.
  • March 29, 1874 - Tent camp, renamed Camp Robinson after Lt. Robinson, killed the previous month. Col. Smith is the first camp commander.
  • May 1874 - Camp Robinson is moved 1½ miles west of the agency, near the confluence of Soldier Creek and the White River. Permanent post was later built on the site.
  • June 1874 - New post commander Captain William Jordan arrives and issues orders for construction of the first permanent barracks.
  • February 1876 - American flag is raised for the first time over Camp Robinson.
  • July 17, 1876 - Battle of Warbonnet Creek. Troops from Camp Robinson, commanded by Col. Merritt, intercept and turn back suspected hostiles fleeing Red Cloud Agency to join Crazy Horse after the Little Big Horn.
  • October 23, 1876 - Gen. Crook leads Sioux Expedition troops into Camp Robinson and disbands the expedition.
  • May 6, 1877 - Famed Sioux warrior Crazy Horse surrenders 889 members of tribe at Camp Robinson.
  • September 5, 1877 - Crazy Horse is killed while trying to escape imprisonment at Camp Robinson.
  • October 25, 1877 - Red Cloud Agency moved to a new site on the Missouri River, later moved to the present site of Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota.
  • October 1878 - Camp Robinson troops capture and take into custody 149 Cheyenne, led by Chief Dull Knife, after they escaped from Indian Territory in Oklahoma a month earlier and fled to their northern homeland.
  • 1886 - Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad reaches Fort Robinson.
  • 1887 - Fort Robinson expanded, becoming regimental headquarters Calvary post.
  • November 19, 1890 - 9th Cavalry, under Maj. Guy V. Henry, leaves fort for Pine Ridge Agency in case Sioux go to war as a result of Ghost Dance ceremonies.
  • December 29, 1890 - Battle of Wounded Knee, Fort served as supply point.
  • 1897 - High-wheeled Columbia bicycles tested here for field use are unsuccessful. Although humorous, it was a forerunner of the mechanized army.
  • 1906 - 10th Cavalry from the fort intercepts 300 Ute, fleeing their reservation and escorts them to Fort Meade, South Dakota.
  • 1919 - Quartermaster Remount Depot established at fort developed into the world's largest training, care and breeding center for Army horses and mules. It orders for construction of the first permanent barracks.
  • 1928-31 - 4th Field Artillery stationed at Fort Robinson.
  • 1935-39 - U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team trained at the fort.
  • October 3, 1942 - War Dog Reception & Train Corps established at the fort and closed in 1946.
  • March 15, 1943 - German POW camp established.
  • 1948 - Fort Robinson declared surplus and turned over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • April 29, 1949 - USDA Beef Cattle Research Station opened; closed in 1971.
  • 1954-64 - USDA Soil Conservation Service Training Center operated here.
  • 1955 - First parcel of land for Fort Robinson State Park acquired by Game and Parks Commission.
  • June 3, 1956 - Fort Robinson Museum opened by Nebraska State Historical Society.
  • 1972 - James Ranch acquisition by the Game and Parks Commission brings Fort Robinson to over 22,000 acres.
  • TrailsideMuseumOfNaturalHistoryJuly2022

    Trailside Museum of Natural History Museum located at Fort Robinson:

    From the web (https://trailside.unl.edu/) Come explore Nebraska’s past and present through a variety of natural history exhibits. We’re also home to Clash of the Mammoths, a fossil display featuring two bull mammoths who died with their tusks locked in combat. This amazing fossil was found less than 15 miles from our location. Our gift shop features a variety of books, toys, apparel, rocks, and natural history themed items.

    TRAILSIDE ESTABLISHED

    Plans for the Trailside Museum of Natural History at Fort Robinson were initiated in 1950 led by Director Schulz. However, real progress began in 1955 when the Army Theatre building was given to the University of Nebraska State Museum. The process of converting the historic structure into a museum began. The project received a boost when University Chancellor Clifford Hardin partnered with the Western Nebraska United Chambers of Commerce to fund the creation of exhibits for the site.

    Most of the exhibits were prepared by University of Nebraska State Museum (UNSM) exhibit staff in Lincoln and shipped to Trailside Museum. Lloyd Tanner, then Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, coordinated the project, and Ivan Burr, Trailside Museum’s curator, supervised the construction and installation. Of the exhibits. Trailside Museum opened to the public on July 3, 1961, and was dedicated on July 4th.

    Nearly 10,000 people from across the United States and overseas visited the Trailside Museum within the first three months of opening.

    THE EXCITEMENT OF 1962

    The first year of operations was exhilarating for Trailside Museum, with more than 30,000 guests visiting. That same year, the State of Nebraska purchased 74 acres of land to create Fort Robinson State Park. A breathtaking discovery nearby uncovered two large mammoth fossils. The excavation revealed the mammoths had died with their tusks entwined, locked in combat. A replica of one of the Crawford Mammoths was placed on exhibit for visitors to enjoy in the summer of 1963.

    Clash of the Mammoths and growth as a tourist destination

    Trailside Museum continued its popularity throughout the 1980s, winning an award for the Best Attraction from Nebraska Travel Industries in 1983. In 2005 a beautiful blue agate, the state gem of Nebraska, was donated. Visitors today can still admire this stunning stone in the exhibits at Trailside Museum. In 2006, after careful preparation and preservation in the UNSM Collections, the Crawford Mammoths returned home. \"Clash of the Mammoths\" opened to the public that year to widespread marvel and acclaim.

    Visitors to Trailside Museum can still admire this unique exhibit, with the \"Clash of the Mammoths\" still arousing inquisitiveness and delight. Guests can also explore the flora, fauna, and geology of western Nebraska, highlighted in the museum’s other exhibits. Set within Fort Robinson State Park, Trailside Museum is a must-stop location when exploring the beauty of western Nebraska.

    7/24/22

    Today has been cooler than the past few weeks have been. Started out cloudy this morning and nice and cool with a breeze, cool enough that we slept with the windows open. Got the chairs out and enjoyed the morning outdoors. Picked up Diane from the Chadron airport and came back to Fort Robinson for lunch, buffalo burgers. After lunch, put Diane and Linda in the stagecoach and then drove out to the buffalo pasture and back to the trailers.

    7/25/22

    Morning before leaving camp: Had breakfast and cleaned up a bit and were on the road by 8am.

    Museum of the Fur Trade

    This was our first stop of the day. The museum's location is well-marked with signage at the road, so a person would be hard-pressed to miss it. The fee for getting in was $6 or $4 with an AAA membership, veteran, or senior citizen. Not an extremely large building, but they have a lot of stuff in this museum. The video they have was very informative, and the museum is not just about the fur trade of the west, but from the Indians among each other through present day. Although, the majority of the displays deal with the late 1700's through the mountain man era. They have a large display of flintlock rifles that was a lot of fun to check out. The Indian bead work on moccasins and such was an amazing display, as well as pelts and buffalo robes on display. It is a well laid out building. From a 30-foot canoe down to trinkets traded with the Indians, they cover the subject well. There are bolts of cloth from the period as well as powder horns, cooking implements and a very nice visitor center area with books and stickers and other sundry items that can be purchased. Out back of the museum they had a teepee setup plus a sutlers store that was a dugout with earthen roof. It appeared that Cindy, Diane and Linda enjoyed the visit. We got family pics by the main sign. The museum is located east of Chadron.

    From the museum's website (https://www.furtrade.org/museum/) we learn: The range and scope of the Museum of the Fur Trade’s collection are simply dazzling. Boasting over 6,000 primary pieces that have been gathered one piece at a time, the museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of historical artifacts covering the fur trade period in the world. Quality replications of some of the items on exhibit, such as Native American jewelry and antique fabrics, are available at the museum gift shop. Photography of exhibits is allowed, so be sure to pack a camera for your visit.

    Sheridan County Heritage Museum:

    This unique museum is located in Rushville NE, east of Chadron. They had displays of items from locals in the area that date back into the 1800's. They had the old original Post Office for the area, which they moved to the museum sight, as well as farming implements and a couple of buggies. From their website (https://visitnebraska.com/rushville/sheridan-county-historical-museum): Local artifacts include library of history, vintage clothing, Camp Sheridan, Indian War military history, 1890 Armstrong House, Rushville’s first log cabin post office. Just off US Hwy 20, N. on Main St - The complete story of Camp Sheridan and the Spotted Tail Agency can be found here, along with numerous exhibits showing life on the frontier. The museum is free.

    TriStateOldTimeCowboyMemorialMuseumJuly2022

    From website: Tri-State Cowboys Memorial Museum This award-winning Museum is a wonderful mix of pictures, models, and actual relics from the era of the Old-Time Cowboys. You can find all manner of interesting pieces, ranging from stacks of used saddles to a wall of registered brands. There's even an old Dentist's chair complete with pulled out teeth! The museum is open every afternoon from June 1 through September 15, 1:00 to 5:00 pm, and by request at any time. Located in Winship Park at 4th & oak Streets. Free Admission Phone: 308.282.1115 Email: dvbrowder@gpcom.net.

    Diane had a great time attempting to understand all of the brands displayed, after reading the instructions on how to actually read a brand. Nice little museum and worth the stop.

    Evening after getting back to camp: We stopped at Walmart in Chadron for groceries and then back to the rigs. With groceries put away, we sat outside enjoying the evening, swatting flies and talking.

    7/26/22

    We set off for today's adventures at 7am, as we have a lot of miles to drive in order to see all of our planned stops for the day.

    Carhenge:

    No trip to western Nebraska is complete without this stop. For us, we all got a good bit of laughter, something about half buried cars made to look like an iconic Stonehenge brings out a smile. Plus, the other metal sculpture artwork lifts the spirit of a person.

    From their website Nebraska's Answer to Stonehenge. Carhenge is a unique, quirky pop-culture icon.

    You ask, why Carhenge? Creator Jim Reinders responds to that question simply with one of his own: \"Why Not?\"

    Carhenge is open year-round, from dawn to dusk, for visitors who love to experience something different. You will not find a to scale replica of England’s Stonehenge quite like this anywhere else in the world. In addition to the monument, we have various car art sculptures and a gift shop that is open seasonally. For off season souvenir shopping, check out the online gift shop. We would love if you came see us and stop into town for dinner, drinks, and main street shopping in our charming business district.

    Just north of Alliance NE along Highway 87, stands a replication of Stonehenge, England's ancient mystical alignment of stones that chart the sun and moon phases.

    Stonehenge stands alone on a plain in England. Carhenge towers over the plains of Nebraska.

    Carhenge consists of the circle of cars, three standing trilithons within the circle, the heel stone, slaughter stone, and two station stones. Sir John Aubrey first recognized the earthworks and great stones as a prehistoric temple in 1648. It was not until excavations undertaken in the 1920's that there were found to be holes cut to hold timber uprights. A total of 56 holes were discovered and named the Aubrey Holes in honor of his observation.

    The artist of this unique car sculpture, Jim Reinders, experimented with unusual and interesting artistic creations throughout his life. While living in England, he had the opportunity to study the design and purpose of Stonehenge. His desire to copy Stonehenge in physical size and placement came to fruition in the summer of 1987 with the help of many family members. Carhenge was built as a memorial to Reinders father, who once lived on the farm where Carhenge now stands. While relatives were gathered following the death of Reinders father in 1982 the discussion turned to a memorial and the idea of a Stonehenge replica was developed. The family agreed to gather in five years and build it. The clan about 35 strong gathered in June 1987 and went to work. The dedication was held on the summer Solstice in 1987 with champagne, poetry, songs, and a play written by the family.

    39 automobiles were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge, with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Some autos are held upright in pits 5 feet deep, trunk end down, while those cars which are placed to form the arches have been welded in place. All are covered with gray spray paint. The honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 caddy.

    Additional car sculptures have been erected at the site known as the car art reserve. One of the first sculptures to be added is the "spawning salmon" created by 29-year-old Geoff Sandhurst from Canada. He won a $2500 prize and placement of his car art creation at the Reserve.

    Dino, the dinosaur, was built by Merle Stone of Hemingford.

    Reinders "Fourd Seasons" comprised only of Fords and inspired by Vivaldi's Four Seasons, suggests the Nebraska landscape's seasonal changes as wheat is planted, grows, matures, and the field lies barren during a windy winter.

    The three bells, built by Reinders, represents the three Reinders siblings. The various sculptures and time capsules (Car-sules) have been contributed by local people over the years is the Car Art Reserve continues to grow.

    The visitor center "The Pit Stop" was built in 2007.

    Jim Reinders gave Carhenge and the 10 acres of ground to the Friends of Carhenge, a local group of dedicated people who preserved and maintained it until October 2013 when it was gifted to the City of Alliance.

    Carhenge's uniqueness, novelty and unusual components continue to draw the attention of film and television production crews as well as over 80,000 visitors from all over the world.

    Jailhouse Courthouse Rock:

    This is a stop on the Oregon Trail history loop in Western Nebraska. It is just south of Bridgeport, NE. A short dirt road leads you to a parking area where you can get pictures of these two iconic landmarks.

    From the website: Located in the Platte River valley, Courthouse Rock and its smaller companion, Jailhouse Rock, were among the first landmarks seen by pioneers heading west.

    Named after the courthouse in Saint Louis, the rocks were often mentioned in contemporary accounts. Artist Alfred J. Miller noted it as a \"curious formation of Earth near the Platte River.\" Famous British explorer Sir Richard Burton wrote that it \"resembled anything more than a courthouse, \" and that it really looked like an irregular pyramid.

    Like Chimney Rock, which is about twelve miles west, Courthouse and Jailhouse Rock have eroded somewhat since the days of the great emigrations along the Oregon Trail.

    Chimney Rock:

    Another iconic landmark from the Oregon Trail, this is a neat quick stop. There is a small museum run by the Nebraska State Park system that you can go through, plus get your pictures of chimney rock.

    From Wikipedia: Chimney Rock is a prominent geological rock formation in Morrill County in western Nebraska. Rising nearly 300 feet above the surrounding North Platte River valley, the peak of Chimney Rock is 4,228 feet above sea level. The formation served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail during the mid-19th century. The trails ran along the north side of the rock, which remains a visible landmark for modern travelers along U.S. Route 26 and Nebraska Highway 92. Chimney Rock National Historic Site was designated in 1956 and is an affiliated area of the National Park Service, operated by History Nebraska.

    Scottsbluff National Monument:

    The next stop on our trip along the Oregon Trail, this is one of my favorites. There is a museum and visitor center at the base which is free to look at. There are reenactors during the summer at the wagons located by the visitor center. From the visitor center, you can hike to the top of the monument or drive to the top on a paved road. From the top of the monument, great views of the Platte Valley greet you. There are 2 loop trails that you can get more views and pictures of the area.

    From website (Scotts Bluff National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)) :

    A Landmark for Many Peoples

    Towering 800 feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff has served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to modern travelers. Rich with geological and paleontological history as well as human history, there is much to discover while exploring the 3,000 acres of Scotts Bluff National Monument.

    There are nearly 4 miles of trails to choose from when hiking at Scotts Bluff National Monument.

    Drive the 1.6 mile Summit Road to catch a view from the top of Scotts Bluff.

    Scotts Bluff National Monument is home to the world's largest collection of William Henry Jackson's artworks.

    The Scotts Bluff National Monument's Presidential Proclamation states that Scotts Bluff has \"scientific interest ... from a geologic standpoint.\" The scientific interest of this site has been apparent since the late 1890s, when the U.S. Geological Survey made the first formal geologic investigation of the area. Geologic publications relating to Scotts Bluff number at least nine, and the area continues to be the subject of investigation. Although it appears the geology of Scotts Bluff has been well studied, the statement in the proclamation helps focus on one of the primary natural resources of the Monument, its geology.

    Scotts Bluff is a topographic feature rising to 4,659 feet above sea level and 800 feet above the North Platte River. The geology of Scotts Bluff is significant from a natural resource standpoint because it affords a view of 740 feet of continuous geologic strata that spans a time period extending from 33 to 22 million years before present. This north face of Scotts Bluff has exposed the most geologic history of any location in the state of Nebraska. Visitors can easily view this resource while walking the Saddle Rock Trail.

    Scotts Bluff, like the adjoining Wildcat Hills and nearby Chimney Rock, Courthouse and Jail Rock, has been and continues to be weathered out of geologic deposits of alluvial origin that made up the ancient high plains of the region prior to regional uplifting. Wind and stream deposits of sand and mud, wind deposits of volcanic ash, and supersaturated groundwater rich in lime formed the layers of sandstone, siltstone, volcanic ash and limestone that now comprise Scotts Bluff's steep elevation, ridges, and the broad alluvial fans at its base. The high plains that existed at that time now began to gradually erode away, except at certain locations that were protected by a caprock of hard limestone that was more resistant to erosion. This caprock covers the tops of the bluffs in the area, slowing their rate of erosion relative to the unprotected surrounding (and eroded) countryside. This process resulted in the area's unique geologic features, such as Scotts Bluff. Erosion is usually unseen by humans, as wind, rain, and snow slowly wash away grains and particles of sand, silt and ash. However, erosion can occur as sudden, large rock falls as happened in 1974 and 2000 in the area of Saddle Rock. Smaller rockfalls are visible along the Summit Road. A badlands formation is located between the north base Scotts Bluff and the North Platte River, where deeply incised arroyos support little or no vegetation.

    The exposed rocks of Scotts Bluff are Tertiary in age and are non-marine in origin. They belong to several stratigraphic units – the Arikaree Group, which contains the Monroe Creek – Harrison and Gering Formations and the White River Group, which contains the Whitney and Orella Members. The Monroe Creek – Harrison Formation is the \"top\" of Scotts Bluff and overlays the Gering Foundation. It dates to 22 million years before present. It is unknown what deposits were laid above this formation. The Monroe Creek - Harrison Formation is pale brown and light gray, silty, and very fine to very fine-grained sandstones. The caprock of the Monroe Creek – Harrison Formation is calcite-cemented \"pipy\" concretions of limestone. The concretions maintain a consistent northeast-southwest orientation over much of the Nebraska Panhandle. Evidence indicates that the concretions formed shortly after the deposition of the host sand.

    The geology of Scotts Bluff is also significant for historical reasons. Emigrants typically traveled within the Platte River Valley on both sides of the river; however, at Scotts Bluff the geology of the badlands forced the emigrants out of the valley. The badlands presented a barrier to travel because they stretched from the base of the bluff to the river itself. Once the emigrants moved out of the valley, the bluff formations forced the travelers to look for a pass to allow them to move through the bluffs and continue on their westward journey.

    The two closest passages were at Robidoux Pass and Mitchell Pass. Those traveling by wagon used Robidoux Pass in the early years because the pass at Scotts Bluff was not fit for wagons. It was described by travelers on horseback in 1834 as \"a large and deep ravine . . . very uneven and difficult, winding from amongst innumerable mounds six to eight feet in height, the space between them frequently so narrow as scarcely to admit our horses.\"Unknown persons made improvements to the pass in the middle nineteenth century, which allowed for safe passage by wagon.

    Agate Fossil Beds National Monument:

    The last stop of our day was really neat, with the visitors center having a nice display of some of the fossils that have been found there. Once again, lots of pictures were taken. There is also a good video to watch that fills you in on the history of the monument as well as the fossils.

    From the website

    In the early 1900s, paleontologists unearthed the Age of Mammals when they found full skeletons of extinct Miocene mammals in the hills of Nebraska -- species previously only known through fragments.

    At the same time, an age of friendship began between rancher James Cook and Chief Red Cloud of the Lakota.

    These two unprecedented events are preserved and protected here... at Agate Fossil Beds.

    While the earliest paleontologists visited and worked at the Agate Springs Bone Bed quarries, other surprising friends of James Cook gathered at his ranch house, 3 miles west of the fossil beds. These visitors made a 150-mile wagon trip from the Pine Ridge Reservation. It was the legendary Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota, and other members of the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes, who had years earlier led his warriors and allies in raids and epic battles against U.S. encroachment onto their lands.

    Tents and tipis were erected alongside the Niobrara River, where the Lakota and Cheyenne guests told stories, danced, tanned hides and exchanged the gifts which now make up the James H. Cook Collection here at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. For decades after, residents and visitors to the region came to the Agate Springs Ranch to see the amazing craftsmanship and historical importance of these gifts. Red Cloud's chief shirt and his own personal moccasins, the magnificent large peace pipe from the Fort Laramie treaty negotiations, and American Horse's war club from the Fetterman Fight.

    All these are now on display here at Agate Fossil Beds as part of the Cook Collection.

    James first found fossils in the hills near his ranch in the 1880s. Chance encounters with paleontologists such as O.C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, then excavating in the American West, stimulated James' interest in the fossil bed above that he brought to the attention of later paleontologists.

    In 1876, James traveled to Montana to locate good hunting and trapping grounds. From 1878 to 1882, after finishing his last trail drive from Texas to Crow Creek, Colorado, he worked in Wyoming, where he guided parties of hunters seeking big game in the Rocky, Big Horn, and Laramie mountains. During these same years, he again met O. C. Marsh, who was exploring for and discovering fossils in the region. These meetings with Marsh and his rival, the Philadelphia-based paleontologist E. D. Cope, sparked James' interest in fossils. It was an interest kept alive, and maybe even deepened, while James worked in New Mexico as manager of the WS Ranch between 1882 and 1887.

    James' New Mexico obligations didn't keep him away from Nebraska, though. In the mid 1880s, he found fossils in the vicinity of today's Carnegie and University Hills while out riding horseback with his sweetheart Kate Graham, whose father, Elisha, owned the northwest Nebraska ranch soon to become the Cook family's home. Married in 1886, James and Kate resided briefly in New Mexico. The next year, Kate by then pregnant with their first child, the couple returned to Nebraska, where James purchased his father-in-law's 04 Ranch, which he christened the Agate Springs Ranch after discovering moss agate near the springs flowing into the Niobrara River west of the ranch house. They started their ranching business with race horses and cattle. When raising and training horses proved unprofitable, James devoted his energy to cattle rearing. He also planted dozens, maybe even a hundred or more, cottonwood trees around the ranch house. To create this Agate Springs Ranch oasis in the otherwise treeless mixed-grass prairie, James watered the trees by hand until established. As the ranch grew, James continued to explore the nearby breaks and buttes; he even invited paleontologists to the ranch, where they found Paleocastor burrows known now as Daemonelix formations and confirmed his discovery of today's globally famous 19.2 million-year-old bonebed in Carnegie and University Hills.

    In this environment, James and Kate raised two boys, Harold (b. 1887) and John (b. 1898). Harold, later educated at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Columbia University, became interested in fossils and aided paleontologists like Erwin H. Barbour, Olaf A. Peterson, and Albert Thomson when they visited and excavated in the area. John, the younger son, died in 1918, at the age of 20, after contracting influenza while attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. James' older brother, John, who'd come to live with him, served for many years as the postmaster of the Agate Post Office, which was located at the ranch; he was preceded in that post by Kate's mother, Mary.

    During his ranching years, James remain involved in a myriad of activities. He applied progressive ideas that he learned while growing up with his Quaker foster family and, later, from the many farming and ranching publications to which he subscribed. He was one of the first ranchers in western Nebraska to use irrigation to improve his hay crop yields. His natural curiosity, meanwhile, led him to maintain a lively interest in not only the area's fossil discoveries but also the histories and cultures of the region's Oglala Lakota, Cheyenne, and other American Indian residents. With Red Cloud's visits to the ranch between the late 1880s and 1908, Cook's friendship with the aging chief and his family and friends grew. Red Cloud himself presented many gifts to James and his family, including items made especially for the Cooks and ones of great significance to the Red Clouds and the Oglala Lakota. In honor of Red Cloud's request, James preserved and displayed these items in the ranch house, showing them often to neighbors and visitors. James' desire to protect these artifacts for his friend contributed to the eventual creation of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, where they're on exhibit today.

    After a long, varied, and interesting life, James Cook died in 1942, at the age of 85. Fifty Years on the Old Frontier, his 1923 autobiography published by Yale University Press, records many of James' memories of life and adventure in the West. The book is available for sale today in the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument bookstore.

    Good day with Cindy, Diane and Linda. Used Linda's car for today's tour of over 300 miles, so we will need to pitch in on fuel tomorrow. Everybody seemed to enjoy the day, which started at 7am, and we got back to the rigs about 6pm. Unloaded the car and ate supper, plus helped Linda get hoses strung out to fill the water in her rig. Tomorrow is another long day, so will hopefully get a good night's rest.

    7/27/22

    Ate breakfast today at the Fort's restaurant prior to going through the museum located at the fort and the lower buildings here at the fort. We changed up our plans for the day due to the early morning downpour, to avoid driving on muddy roads. It appears that taking a break was a good deal as most of us were tired from the hard run the last couple of days. That heavy rain gave us a leak on our living room slide, which appears to have occurred because of the gaskets on the windows being too small and not sealing the windows. Put in a call with GD service to see where we can get repair parts.

    Trailside Museum of Natural History Museum located at Fort Robinson:

    From the web () Come explore Nebraska’s past and present through a variety of natural history exhibits. We’re also home to Clash of the Mammoths, a fossil display featuring two bull mammoths who died with their tusks locked in combat. This amazing fossil was found less than 15 miles from our location. Our gift shop features a variety of books, toys, apparel, rocks, and natural history themed items.

    TRAILSIDE ESTABLISHED

    Plans for the Trailside Museum of Natural History at Fort Robinson were initiated in 1950 led by Director Schulz. However, real progress began in 1955 when the Army Theatre building was given to the University of Nebraska State Museum. The process of converting the historic structure into a museum began. The project received a boost when University Chancellor Clifford Hardin partnered with the Western Nebraska United Chambers of Commerce to fund the creation of exhibits for the site.

    Most of the exhibits were prepared by University of Nebraska State Museum (UNSM) exhibit staff in Lincoln and shipped to Trailside Museum. Lloyd Tanner, then Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, coordinated the project, and Ivan Burr, Trailside Museum’s curator, supervised the construction and installation. Of the exhibits. Trailside Museum opened to the public on July 3, 1961, and was dedicated on July 4th.

    Nearly 10,000 people from across the United States and overseas visited the Trailside Museum within the first three months of opening.

    THE EXCITEMENT OF 1962

    The first year of operations was exhilarating for Trailside Museum, with more than 30,000 guests visiting. That same year, the State of Nebraska purchased 74 acres of land to create Fort Robinson State Park. A breathtaking discovery nearby uncovered two large mammoth fossils. The excavation revealed the mammoths had died with their tusks entwined, locked in combat. A replica of one of the Crawford Mammoths was placed on exhibit for visitors to enjoy in the summer of 1963.

    Clash of the Mammoths and growth as a tourist destination

    Trailside Museum continued its popularity throughout the 1980s, winning an award for the Best Attraction from Nebraska Travel Industries in 1983. In 2005 a beautiful blue agate, the state gem of Nebraska, was donated. Visitors today can still admire this stunning stone in the exhibits at Trailside Museum. In 2006, after careful preparation and preservation in the UNSM Collections, the Crawford Mammoths returned home. \"Clash of the Mammoths\" opened to the public that year to widespread marvel and acclaim.

    Visitors to Trailside Museum can still admire this unique exhibit, with the \"Clash of the Mammoths\" still arousing inquisitiveness and delight. Guests can also explore the flora, fauna, and geology of western Nebraska, highlighted in the museum’s other exhibits. Set within Fort Robinson State Park, Trailside Museum is a must-stop location when exploring the beauty of western Nebraska.

    Supper was at the house with baked taters, salad and pulled pork. Finished the day watching Nomadland movie as Diane had not seen it.

    7/28/22

    We started off on this adventure at around 8am this morning, stopping for gas and off we went. This area lies North of Crawford down 12 miles of well maintained dirt road. We arrived and paid our entry fee, which was a $1.50 charge with the America The Beautiful pass. There is a 1-mile loop trail that takes you through the area. They provide a foldout brochure for a self-guided tour that makes it enjoyable and easy to learn about the area. As is typical, lots of pictures were taken. Linda and Diane didn't feel comfortable doing the rock scramble on the last 4/10ths of the trail, so returned back to the trailhead the way that we came in. Cindy and I finished the loop by ourselves and got some more good pictures. We also checked out the sod house by the parking lot.

    Toadstool Geologic Park, July 2022:

    From the web (https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nebraska/recreation/recarea/?recid=10616) Toadstool Geologic Park is noted for its unusual geological formations, some in the shape of toadstools, and scientifically valuable fossil deposits. Our interpretive kiosk explains and illustrates the local geology and provides information and history about the local grasslands. During your hike, look for signs of fossils that give scientists insight into the behavior of animals as they passed through this area as far back as 30 million years ago. In order for others to enjoy viewing these fossil resources, collection is prohibited.

    The trailhead at the campground provides access to three hiking trails to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty. A one-mile loop highlights many examples of eroded clay/sandstone formations. While on the trail, follow our interpretive brochure to learn the fascinating geology of the area.

    The Bison Trail leaves the interpretive loop at the halfway point and continues up the canyon to Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center. Toadstool Campground to Hudson Meng is 3 miles one way.

    A five-mile loop begins at the campground and proceeds on the graveled section of the interpretive trail for a short distance before heading north through the badlands and grasslands on the Great Plains Trail. After 1.5 miles, the Great Plains Trail intersects with the 918 Road. Follow the signs to return to the Bison Trail and Toadstool Campground. The loop can be done in reverse going the other direction on the interpretive trail as you leave the campground.

    The Great Plains Trail developed by the Great Plains Trail Alliance is a cross-country network of public land trails and roads beginning in Guadalupe National Park and ending at the Canadian Border. The Bison Trail, 918 Road and part of the 5-mile loop are part of this network. Great Plains Trail information can be found at www.greatplainstrail.org

    The campground consists of six sites with picnic tables and fire rings and upright grills and two accessible vault toilets. There is no water. Special features: In 1984 the Forest Service constructed a sod house near the site of a sod house built in 1929. The new soddie provides a look into the past when the homesteaders on the grasslands used the only abundant material available. The original sod house was lived in briefly before being abandoned, and signs of the original structure no longer exist.

    Warbonnet Battlefield Monument Montrose Church/Cemetery July2022:

    From the web An encounter between the 5th U.S. Calvary and a group of Cheyenne Indians took place near Warbonnet Creek on July 17, 1876. The Cheyenne were attempting to join the victors of the battle of the Little Bighorn three weeks earlier. The only fatality of that battle was the Cheyenne warrior, Yellow Hair, who was killed by Buffalo Bill Cody. The Warbonnet Monument, perched on a hill near Warbonnet Creek, recognizes the troops of the 5th U.S. Calvary. The Monument was destroyed in July of 1996 and rebuilt by volunteers in May of 1999. A short distance to the southeast you will find a stone Monument marking the confrontation between Cody and Yellow Hair. Parking is available just off of Road 958 with a short walk to both the Warbonnet Battlefield Monument and Cody Yellow Hair Monument.

    The former town of Montrose, established in 1887 at the intersection of two former stage routes, is located nearby. The Montrose Church was constructed in 1887 and the cemetery is still maintained. Only one other structure from the town site still stands and is located across the road from the Church. Montrose had a post office from 1887 till 1948. The town's peak population was in 1910 with 24 inhabitants.

    We got back to the rigs early in the afternoon, ate lunch, watched the movie "Revenant" and relaxed. At 8pm, we went over and watched the little rodeo that the fort puts on Thursday evening. Cute little performance with roping, a boot race, musical chairs on horseback, and such frivolity. Fun little show, then back to the rigs for rest.

    7/29/22

    Cindy started her morning with laundry and needed to bring it back to the house and dry it on the clothesline as the one dryer quit working. Once clothes were hung out, we went down to the fort restaurant for breakfast. While there, we saw that there is a walking tour of the old Red Cloud Indian Agency location. So we came back to the rigs, checked on drying clothes, then went down to the history museum at the fort to check it out and get a map for the Red Cloud Agency walking tour.

    Well, no one has the map we were looking for, so we pointed and took photos of the one posted at the main office and drove out to the site. The ladies wimped out on walking and studying the area via the self-guided tour, so only ended up with photos of the sign and monument. Oh well, thus goes life. Having beans and Mississippi roast for dinner and loading and preparing for tomorrow's departure for the Black Hills.

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